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Weekend inspections signal a tougher OSHA strategy



After spending the last few months developing a temporary emergency standard COVID-19, the Swedish Work Environment Authority has turned to safety issues in the construction industry.

While this initiative deals with excavation and fall protection risks in Colorado, experts say it could indicate how OSHA under the Biden administration approaches safety investigations and enforcement.

In early June, OSHA announced that it would launch a "Weekend Work" action program targeting construction sites on Saturdays and Sundays in a "proactive effort to identify hazardous workplaces and to ensure workers end their shifts safely" . ”This endeavor specifically aims to deal with potential fall protection violations ̵

1; the most cited OSHA violation in a decade – and trenching violations, which have also been consistently identified by the Agency as one of the major design violations.

This program" is truly consistent. with the direction we see the Biden administration go – a heavier regulation, a union type of strategy for all its labor initiatives, says Ryan Markham, a construction lawyer at the Denver office of the law firm Cotney LLP.

Occupational safety advocates such as Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Boston-based co-executive director of the National Council of Occupational Safety and Health, say there are situations where so-called "day teachers" or incomplete temporary workers are often hired on site, perhaps working on weekends without the necessary training and protection.

"That's what we need from OSHA, to go out into communities when employers can not hide what their real practices are, send the message," she said.

Whether serious accidents occur on weekends and are not reported may be open to debate. According to Pinnacol Assurance, Colorado's largest labor insurer, 20% of workplace accidents occur on Wednesdays, with only 3% occurring on Saturdays and less than one percent on Sundays.

Michael Gifford, president of the Associated General Contractors of Colorado, said his membership, which is primarily general and specialist contractors involved in large projects such as hotels, hospitals and large office buildings, usually does not run its workplaces on weekends.

"We have a fairly low accident rate and this is not something that is really needed," he said of the weekend inspections. He noted that the association and the OSHA management in Colorado meet quarterly to address construction safety issues.

Mr. Gifford said the new inspections "could be targeted at other parts of the market" and that a more effective way to improve construction safety would be "if (OSHA) cooperates with us and tells us what the areas of concern are" instead of doing surprise inspections .

"The message we send to all our customers is to work safely all the time – just because it's the weekend does not mean taking safety or relaxing," says Markham. "(Previously) we knew that government workers would not work on the weekend, and this kind of warns everyone. If you are unsure, there is a chance they will come out and quote you. "

Louise Esola contributed to this report. Catalog

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